Some people are hard wired to grab life for all its worth and wring everything out of it that is humanly possible.At this time of year, I know how easy it is to feel frustrated. Those dark thoughts start trying to find a place to live in your head and your heart but you have to find a way to kick them out because they will only drag you down.According to Dr. Rita Freedman, Ph.D., a former professor of psychology and author of “Overcoming Loss,” efforts to heal your soul won’t work “if you keep on punishing yourself or the world for things that are beyond anyone’s control. Guilt is self-punishment; forgiveness is self-pardon.”
Instead, seek out the positive. People such as Clark Lambros (please read the New York Times story below) and others like him inspire me as they go at life full force and develop their talents for the greater good, constantly looking for opportunities where they can improve the quality of life for themselves and others and, most of all, enjoy themselves and the people they love with their whole being.
They work hard and they play hard.
They live, live, live their precious lives to the max!
And so should we all with every chance that life presents to us!!
|Photo Courtesy of The New York Times|
January 27, 2013
Living, and Dying, on His Own Terms
Clark Lambros knew how to live, and he knew how to die.
To the end, he was in charge.
He never cared much about what others thought.
When he was 39, a divorced man, he met Michele Butler. She was a senior in high school at the time.
Looking back at it now, as a 58-year-old woman, she knows how unlikely it was that anything would come of it.
But life surprises, as does love, and the two ended up together for 40 years, settling in Marquette, a city of 21,000 by Lake Superior, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
He owned Vango’s, a restaurant he named after his father, which still features pizza and food from his homeland of Greece. He also managed a golf course.
She started waitressing there while going to college, eventually earning a bachelor’s in education and a master’s in speech. In 1981, he asked if she wanted to become a partner in the restaurant, and for $40,000, she did. It was the first in a long series of joint business ventures that included a strip mall, a supper club, 10 rental houses, a 35,000-square-foot office building and 22 acres on Lake Superior.
Whatever Mr. Lambros took on, he wanted it to be the best. Vango’s was one of the last restaurants in town to have a Friday night fish fry and now it is the biggest fish fry in greater Marquette.
The couple never married — never had children together — and even Ms. Butler has difficulty explaining it, except to say, “We were more married in our hearts than most.”
On his deathbed, he would brag to the hospital chaplain that she was a workhorse, high praise from a successful businessman who did his own plumbing, electrical work and carpentry and who would fix a broken restaurant booth himself rather than pay someone to do it.
He led a building committee for the new Y.M.C.A. in town, donated money to reopen a popular ice cream stand in a local park and gave generously to Marquette’s little Greek Orthodox church. He also hosted spaghetti dinners to raise funds to help the high school’s sports teams and cheerleaders and to buy two new drug-sniffing dogs for the Police Department.
She was a Rotary Club board member and an ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce.
There was one dark spot in all this: the death of Mr. Lambros’s son from his marriage, Clark Jr., at age 24, in an automobile accident.
In 2003, when Mr. Lambros and Ms. Butler decided that they wanted a condo on Florida’s Gulf Coast, it took him six hours to buy one. He excelled in tennis, and in the last round of golf he ever played, a year ago, when he was 79, he shot a 78.
Last month he was supposed to have a hip replacement at the Mayo Clinic, but had two heart attacks there in two days.
The doctors put a tube down his throat to help him breathe, making it impossible for him to talk. So he wrote messages on a white board. At one point, seeing how glum Ms. Butler and other family members looked, he wrote, “Smile, don’t cry.”
Later on, he wrote, “Have some fun.”
At 1 that Thursday afternoon, he asked a doctor to pull out the tube so he could talk. That’s when he and Ms. Butler made final plans to donate their 22 acres on Lake Superior to the city.
In memory of Mr. Lambros and his son, they decided, it was to be called Clark Park.
At 8 that night, his doctors gave him sleeping pills and the four heart medications he was taking intravenously. Around midnight, during the second heart attack, paddles were needed to resuscitate him. By then, his kidneys were failing.
A priest arrived and they spoke together in Greek.
Several times through the day, he woke and asked, “Where is everyone?” For years he had been telling Ms. Butler that when he could not live a normal life anymore, he did not want to live.
About 5 p.m. he woke one last time. “He said, ‘I love you, I’m tired. It’s time to turn it off,’ ” recalled Ms. Butler.
He looked at her and winked.
Then the doctors turned off the oxygen and pulled out the intravenous tube.
On Friday, Dec. 14, at 5:05 p.m. Mr. Lambros died.
Even the nurses wept.